Mets morning briefing 8.19.11

After winning a series in San Diego for the first time since 2002, then having a team off-day Thursday, the Mets open a weekend series against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. It's a challenging stretch for the Mets, who then play a three-game series at NL East-leading Philadelphia before returning home to face the wild-card-leading Atlanta Braves.

Read the Mets-Brewers series preview here.

Friday's news reports:

• With Francisco Rodriguez coming to Citi Field with the Milwaukee Brewers, Newsday's David Lennon looks at the closing situation for 2012 with the Mets. He writes Jason Isringhausen is not a candidate. The Mets are in somewhat of a bind because Bobby Parnell or Pedro Beato may not be ready for that responsibility and yet Sandy Alderson likely is not going to want to allocate enormous bucks via free agency to fill that void.

"We'll see where we are at the end of the season," Alderson told Lennon. "We do have an internal candidate or two, but I'd say that the options are limited. On the other hand, if you look at the closer market over the last couple of years, it hasn't been a place where free agents are getting major contracts. There could be a lot of guys out there that are capable potentially and we'll look to see where the market is. Our bullpen is going to be an important focus for us next season. It needs to be improved, and now without K-Rod, it needs to have someone at the back end of it."

• The attorneys for Fred Wilpon and family head to federal court in Manhattan Friday afternoon hoping to get tossed all or part of a $1 billion lawsuit brought by the trustee trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Experts believe the Wilpons ultimately will be on the hook for about $300 million, especially in light of an appeals court ruling Tuesday.

Jose Reyes is due to test his strained left hamstring by running at Citi Field before the series opener.

• Record columnist Bob Klapisch links Reyes' future to the ongoing $1 billion lawsuit brought by trustee Irving Picard against the Wilpons. Writes Klapisch:

It goes beyond not knowing what the market will be this winter; it’s wondering who’ll own the Mets next season and if they’ll be willing to pay $20 million a year for a dynamic, but oft-injured shortstop. Reyes can’t realistically expect a seven-year contract -- not now, not after breaking down with the same injury to the same hamstring. “What’s he going to look like at 34, 35?” asked one executive, who believes five years is the greatest commitment Reyes will command. That’s good news for the Mets: they need the pool of bidders to be tightly bunched, indistinguishable to Reyes except for his long-standing relationship in New York. But the Mets also need to convince Reyes they’re headed in the right direction, that this month’s collapse is an anomaly, not a symptom of a losing culture that cannot be cured.

• Commissioner Bud Selig, speaking at the quarterly owners meetings, expressed faith Wilpon and family would weather their financial storm. "The Mets situation is moving along very well," Selig said in Cooperstown, according to Ken Davidoff in Newsday. "Fred and I have had a lot of conversations here, and this was the first time in a long time we had no conversations about the Mets in any way, which is a very good sign."

• Former Met Mike Jacobs, playing for Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization, became the first North American professional athlete to be suspended for testing positive for human growth hormone. There is no current testing of mjaor leaguers or other 40-man roster players for HGH, but Jacobs was a minor leaguer. Writes ESPN's Jayson Stark:

Other professional athletes -- including then-Atlanta Braves prospect Jordan Schaefer, in 2008 -- have been suspended because of evidence that they used, possessed or obtained HGH. But this is the first positive test since blood testing of minor leaguers began in July 2010. Testing for HGH is not part of the current major league drug agreement, but sources say it's an issue currently under discussion at the bargaining table during baseball's ongoing labor talks.

Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger quotes Terry Collins saying the Mets take infield practice more than any other team before games, yet it does not seem to translate into fielding crispness once play actually begins. Writes McCullough:

The defense has cost the team 38 runs, according to data accumulated by Baseball Info Solutions (BIS), a video scouting company. The company tracks every play each day, and compiles the data to show the number of runs saved or lost due to fielding. The Mets rank 14th among 16 National League teams. The team also ranks 29th among all major-league clubs in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), an occasionally controversial metric that also utilizes BIS to determine the number of runs saved or lost against average. A word of caution here: In a one-year sample, the information is prone to major fluctuation. The Mets possess a minus-40.9 UZR this year. As a group in 2010, they finished at 6.2.

Steve Popper of the Record wonders about the future of Angel Pagan with the Mets. Pagan is making $3.5 million this year, and is in for a raise because he is arbitration-eligible. "What will happen next year, it’ll happen," Pagan told Popper. "You never know what can happen. You can get traded, stay here. I just want to finish strong for the team and see what will happen next year. Obviously I haven’t had the season I planned on. It’s been a tough season -- not just for me, but for the whole team. But together, as a team, we’ve been able to go through ups and downs, being a .500 team sometimes, being a good-looking team. That’s what we’re looking for -- to finish strong and see what happens."

R.A. Dickey tells Mike Puma in the Post that K-Rod became a different person as the result of anger-management training. "He seemed much different to me," Dickey said. "He seemed a lot more approachable and congenial. He smiled more and laughed more. There was a lot about him that was different for the better. I know he did a lot of work therapy-wise. What he presented the team with was a different kind of guy."

BIRTHDAYS: Pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ron Darling turns 51. ... Left-hander Chris Capuano turns 33. ... Corner infielder/pinch-hitter Matt Franco, a member of the Mets' last pennant winner in 2000, turns 42.